What do unemployment, fuel poverty and climate change all have in common? The answer is fairly simple and I’m sure you’d agree - they’re all big problems facing society and they need to be tackled.
I believe this is achievable but only if we combine our expertise across sectors and back the best, most innovative solutions. This is something I feel passionately about and as Investment Principal of Ignite, the UK’s first corporate impact investment fund focused on energy and backed by Centrica, I’m delighted to say that this is exactly what we’re doing. We’re creating real social, economic and environmental impact across the UK by growing the ideas of leading social enterprises with both our expertise and financial support.
And since we launched in 2013, we’ve committed over £6m of our £10m investment fund alongside more than 2,000 hours of business support, benefitting over 10,000 people.
In addition to the social enterprises we’ve made a financial investment in, we also help a number of entrepreneurs through an accelerator programme. These entrepreneurs will benefit from a bespoke package of specialist business support and training to accelerate their impact while also potentially receiving investments ranging between £50k-£2m at a later date.
So what do some our social enterprises on the accelerator programme do?
- Open TRV manufactures low cost, intelligent thermostatic radiator valves that enable zonal heating and adapt-to-usage patterns. In doing so, this product can reduce energy consumption, bills and carbon emissions.
- Poo at the zoo creates renewable energy from animals’ poo in what will be the UK’s first poo power project. They’ll also develop an educational exhibit alongside the anaerobic digestion plant to stimulate better understanding around the benefits of renewable energy.
- Adaptavate designs ‘eco’ bio based building product, Breathaboard, a direct competitor to plasterboard which is a hazardous material when sent to landfill. In the drive for airtight, energy efficient homes, Breathaboard creates a healthier environment by reducing condensation and mould which builds up from activities like cooking and showering.
- SolarBox repurposes iconic telephone kiosks to provide free, solar-powered mobile charging around London. Meanwhile, they provide free community advertising to local charities and social enterprises to generate additional awareness and support.
- Lofty Heights helps vulnerable people improve their living conditions by clearing lofts, interiors and gardens so that they can benefit from opportunities like insulation through the Energy Company Obligation. The service will be provided by rural people not in education, employment or training (NEETs), helping more people reach their potential.
- Anemos Renewables supports communities in Wales decarbonise energy by developing small-scale community wind installations. At the same time, training and development opportunities for young people will be provided, opening up new careers in the renewable sector.
- IRT Surveys provides thermal imaging and automated digital analysis of domestic and commercial properties which reveals the cost of energy loss and encourages people to take up energy efficiency opportunities. In doing so, IRT can aid the alleviation of fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions.
- DividaBill offers an online bill management service for shared accommodation which sets up, manages and closes utility and service accounts while dividing the costs between housemates. Because the services are bought in bulk, customers can benefit from competitive prices, helping them save money and time.
- Recycled Assets Company creates a renewable biomass fuel by utilising waste materials such as shredded waste paper and ground coffee. Work opportunities are being provided to people with learning difficulties or those who struggle to gain employment.
Do you have a big idea that can make a positive difference in society? We’re always on the look-out for new opportunities so get in touch today.